FROM THE PAD

“On these magic shores children at play are forever beaching their (tiny boats). We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.”
-J.M. Barrie, from Peter Pan

What was your dream as a child? Did you dream of being a superhero? Of being invisible? Maybe you wanted to be a Greek God or Goddess? Maybe a pirate? Did you travel to far-away places in your mind? As children we could be anything and it never felt like pretending. We were flying; we were magic; we were whatever we dreamed of being.

Rehearsal for TAM's Peter and the Starcatcher

Rehearsal for TAM’s Peter and the Starcatcher

That experience is what Peter and the Starcatcher celebrates. Its roots are in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan—the ultimate exploration of what it means to be a child. The book that gave this play life, Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, postulates the origin story for Peter Pan. How did Peter come to be? Where did Tinkerbell come from? What is Neverland and why is it magic? From this adventure tale, this truly remarkable play was created. A group of young actors, in an empty room, with some bits of rope, and a boat-load of imaginations expanded the mythology of “the Boy Who Never Grew Up” into this marvel of theatrical story-telling of the most wonderful kind.

Photo from the original production of Peter and the Starcatcher

Photo from the original production of Peter and the Starcatcher

 

 

In this age of technology, a great deal of theatre has come to rely upon impressive spectacle as a primary feature—falling chandeliers, battles in mid-air over the audiences’ heads, giant set pieces appearing and disappearing through the use of elevators, turntables, and hydraulic systems. The creators of Peter and the Starcatcher offer an antidote to this overly mechanized type of theatre and, in doing so, invite us to “be a child” again simply by activating our curiosity, engaging our imagination, and believing.

Starcatcher is theatre stripped down to its very essence—thirteen actor/ musicians/ foley artists, with a few nautical-themed set pieces and some props, create nearly a hundred characters and dozens of locations. The production uses elements of Victorian drama, modern comedy, Vaudeville, British Music Hall, as well as paying homage to Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman, William Shakespeare and, of course, J.M. Barrie. Its part 19th-Century romantic adventure and part Warner Brothers cartoon. The mash-up of these vastly different styles delivers an unexpected sort of magic! There are scenes of beautiful, touching sincerity followed by moments of dizzying wordplay and wacky humor.

Rehearsal for TAM's Peter and the Starcatcher

Rehearsal for TAM’s Peter and the Starcatcher

Photo from the original production of Peter and the Starcatcher

Photo from the original production of Peter and the Starcatcher

And, as in all the great fairy tales, at the heart of Peter and the Starcatcher is a story of self-discovery—recognizing your true self and learning what that means in relationship to others. It is the one journey we all share—the journey of “growing up.” As the mother of two Lost Boys on their own journey of discovery, I find this play’s underlying message incredibly empowering for young people. Be who you are. Follow your bliss. Pursue your dream! There will be obstacles and successes and failures and rewards, but don’t give up. Stay in the game. Catch the second star to the right and sail on ‘til morning!

In their acknowledgments in the novel, the authors write: “And above all we thank Paige Pearson, for asking her daddy one night, after her bedtime story, how a flying boy met a certain pirate.” The curiosity and imagination of a child has inspired a new, wildly inventive and richly entertaining adventure tale—a boy before he could fly and a captain before the hook. We hope you’ll come on this journey with us, in Cumston Hall, on the deck of the HMS Starcatcher!

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